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Scientology surrenders — at least partially — in seven lawsuits against its rehab network

Ryan Hamilton

Ryan Hamilton

Here at the Underground Bunker, we’ve been keeping a close watch on Las Vegas attorney Ryan Hamilton, who has filed eighteen lawsuits since January against Scientology’s drug rehab network, Narconon. Hamilton accuses Narconon of running a deceptive operation that promises drug counseling but instead subjects patients to Scientology training. In each case, Hamilton has sued a local Narconon facility in either California, Nevada, or Colorado, as well as two of Scientology’s umbrella organizations — Narconon International and the Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE).

Now, we’ve learned that in seven of those lawsuits, Narconon International and ABLE have been removed after quietly settling with the plaintiffs. The lawsuits remain active, meanwhile, because the local facilities have not settled.

Considering Scientology’s reputation for scorched-earth legal tactics and delaying maneuvers, it may come as quite a shock to some observers that two Scientology organizations, staffed with elite “Sea Org” workers, are cutting checks to quietly get out of these lawsuits.

Here’s the list of lawsuits that Narconon International and ABLE settled, and that will continue, at least for now, only against the facility where the alleged abuses occurred…

Bryan and Nikki Mott (Colorado)
Kenneth and Jered Mowery (Watsonville, CA)
Lori, Ryan, and Jillene Winchell (Nevada)
Charis Yates, Beret and Dean Pugh (Nevada)
Christy Estrada and Braden Chavez (San Diego, CA)
Monica and Sean O’Connell (Watsonville, CA)
Ronald and Jason McClure (Nevada)

We’re left with a lot of questions. If Scientology leader David Miscavige was willing to cut a check to extricate two of his entities from a particular lawsuit, why not write a larger check to get all three of them out?

One answer may have to do with the companies providing these entities with insurance. Our legal experts tell us that increasingly, as Narconon’s troubles have deepened — with patient deaths in Georgia and Oklahoma, and lawsuits piling up all over the country — the companies that provide liability insurance to these facilities are losing patience. We hope to have more about that in a future story.

For now, we can only marvel that Ryan Hamilton seems to be having so much success — and so quickly — where so many other legal attacks on Scientology have stumbled. Not only have none of his eighteen lawsuits been dismissed or even delayed, seven of them have already apparently paid off.

And with gold in them thar hills, could a rush of similar litigation from attorneys in other parts of the country be far behind?

 
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Narconon ‘halfway house’ in Clearwater? Not true, say our sources

Joe Childs has a new story at the Tampa Bay Times that finally, after two years, mentions the name “Kurt Feshbach” in relation to the ongoing fight over a Scientology rehab center in Florida’s Hernando County. If you’ve been following our stories about the conflict, you know that Feshbach’s company Toucan Partners owns the land where the Narconon rehab center is located, and Toucan and the rehab facility — Suncoast Rehabilitation Center in Spring Hill — had sued, claiming discrimination when the county refused to allow the center to expand.

A jury agreed, but then awarded only a token amount of money to the Narconon center and nothing to Toucan. Then, recently, an appeals court overturned the damages award and ordered it recalculated, and that task will go to mediation.

While that battle was going on, for some reason the Times never uttered Feshbach’s name in its reporting of the lawsuit, even though he’s a fascinating character. With his brothers Matt and Joe, the Feshbachs were notorious short sellers in the 1980s, and they were huge funders of Scientology, helping to pay for the development of “Super Power” processes in the early 1990s.

We still don’t know why the Times kept Feshbach out of its stories, but now his name did finally appear as Joe Childs is reporting that while that battle in Hernando County was going on, Feshbach’s Narconon purchased a former Baptist church in Clearwater for $950,000 in May 2013.

Why? Feshbach and the executives at the Narconon wouldn’t talk, but Childs says the former church is going to be turned into a “halfway house.”

That’s not what our sources tell us. We’re told that plans have been in place for more than a year to move the Narconon facility from Hernando County to Clearwater. In fact, the business offices of Narconon Spring Hill are already operating out of the former Baptist church, and the rest of the operation will move down once dorms and a sauna have been added to the facility.

So even as Scientology’s rehab fights for more money from Hernando County, it plans to ditch that location for Clearwater. (Something tells us Hernando County won’t be sorry to see them go, even if it does have to pay a larger damages award.)

 
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Posted by Tony Ortega on July 26, 2014 at 07:00

E-mail your tips and story ideas to tonyo94@gmail.com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS (We read Scientology’s founding text) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25

UP THE BRIDGE (Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN (Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING (Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43

PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer

 

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